A New Year, a New Start: 5 Tips to Finish Successfully
One of my family traditions is the annual “Cleaning of the Junk Drawer.” This magical event comes around at the beginning of the year, conveniently timed with the new year. Each member of the family has the opportunity to sort through the treasure and keep their favorite 20 items. Why each person chooses their items vary, but it’s a great way to start the year with a new drawer, full of my families most valued junk.
During this year’s festivities, my youngest daughter mentioned that our activities related to everyday life. When asked to explain, she said that we all have ‘junk’ that we need to get rid of, whether it’s something physical, or emotional junk we may be carrying around, and it would be great if we could all empty our junk drawers every year too.
As an educator, I immediately thought about how students should practice emptying their mental ‘junk drawers’ from time to time, looking at what is working for them in school, as well as making changes to habits or activities that may not be leading to their success. Here is a list of five pieces of ‘junk’ that every student should look at clearing from their drawer today:
- Remember the past, but don’t dwell on it. One of the biggest reasons students fail is their lack of confidence, based on their past performance. Look at the new semester as day one of a new chapter of your school year. What happened last semester should not determine what happens today, tomorrow, or for the rest of the year. Take the lessons learned (bad grades, low test scores, etc.) and use them to make your second semester better!
- Stop saying “I can’t,” “I just don’t get it,” “It’s too hard,” etc. Whatever excuse you may come up with is still just an excuse. If we want anything badly enough, we will make it work, and it is right in school too. Make the time, ask for help, work a bit more, and you can make it happen! If you stop working on excuses and start working on solutions, you’d be amazed at what you’ll see.
- Consider your schedule. We have many plans in life we must follow. School schedule, work schedules, sleeping schedule, etc. Although it's your work, your schedule control is limited; you can control when you work in school, and when you get your rest. Successful people follow schedules, as do most successful students. As an online learner, it’s critical to set and stick to a regular daily schoolwork schedule. By doing this, you can begin to learn how to manage your day to complete all daily requirements and finish your course on time. Teachers are great at setting schedules. Ask yours if you need help getting started.
- Junk in, junk out. Consider your diet. Adolescents and teens don’t often consider the nutritional value in a bag of Takis, or a White Chocolate Mocha from you know where (470 calories and 18 fat grams, BTW), but should work on developing healthy eating habits now. A properly fueled body not only has more energy to complete school work but, believe it or not, eating healthy foods makes you feel better!
- Be nicer to yourself. A wise man by the name of Stuart Smalley taught me an important lesson about positive self-talk. He used to say: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” While you may not be able to say that to yourself with a straight face, you need to consider the messages that you send yourself every day. How do you speak to yourself? If you’re always bombarding yourself with negativity and self-hatred, you will never believe that you can be successful. Start each day by telling yourself something nice about you. Positive self-talk feels weird at first but can help build your self-confidence, which in turn can help you improve all aspects of your life, including school.